Interview with ICMP alumnus Marcus Gooda
Our BMus alumnus tells us what it takes to succeed as a contemporary session musician...
What do you need to be a successful session musician?
Our alumnus Marcus Gooda is well placed to answer this big question. He's been a full time musician ever since completing his studies with ICMP, gracing some of the UK's biggest stages and keeping a dizzying number of musical plates spinning to sustain himself in the industry he knows and loves.
Currently performing with his own outfit, The Yacht Club, Marcus also spent much of 2019 on tour with the ace hardcore band, Employed To Serve. We find out how he got the gig and more in our new interview...
What led you to ICMP? And how did your time with us help shape you as a musician?
I got talking to some musicians after a gig I had played about furthering my musical education.
I met Nate Williams (now Jamiroquai), who introduced me to former lecturer Atar Shafighian and ICMP sounded the perfect place for me to develop my skills.
Being in an environment where you are constantly learning, being pushed by your peers, and encouragingly challenged by fantastic tutors is the perfect melting pot to hone your skills and learn all about yourself as a musician."
I began on the Higher Diploma, not knowing how to form a triad correctly, to graduating with a degree!
You've been a full-time musician since completing your studies at ICMP - what was your breakthrough moment?
I had already built up a nice block of credits through session work, so I knew as long as I kept pushing, I would be okay. I had sewn a lot of seeds to ensure when I graduated I would be available for anything. Part of that was networking with my fellow peers and always looking out for one another. Through many links that got me to the O2 arena as part of Country 2 Country festival. I remember thinking "okay, I'm a musician now!".
Could you talk a little about your experiences as a session player - how did you get into this world? And how do you get the repeat work?
Network. Make yourself known to other musicians and be available.
No one will work with you if they don't know who you are, if you're available, or if you will do a good job. And a great way to get into this is to go to jam nights. If you're getting up on stage with people you've never met before, introduce yourself and say hello."
You'll never know where that could lead to. If you want that call back you've got to be punctual, reliable and approachable ... and play well!
You played with Employed To Serve in 2019 - how did you end up joining the band?
It was via session work! I had known the guitarist Rich for a long time and we kept in touch, kept bumping into each other at shows and even played together in different acts. So when they had a bassist position available, I sent an email to Rich ... and the rest is history!
I studied very hard though. I was asked to learn three songs off of their second album so I learned it all. I think that level of preparedness and dedication went a long way to securing my position by showing how serious I was. Our year is all mapped out now and there are some killer festivals and tours to be announced. Some very big stages! While this limits my availability for other work I know exactly when I can be available and for how long.
What are your top tips for surviving life on the road? And do you have an essential item you take with you?
Bring a travel pillow, sleeping bag and charger with you at all times! Also don't be afraid to raid the food and drink rider at shows: that's what it is there for. Take some back to the van and you've got breakfast sorted. There's also no shame in taking time out for yourself. If you've got a few hours to kill, go for a walk. Tour can be especially brutal when you're away from the ones you love for so long. I'd encourage to explore where you are, or if that's not your thing, find a quiet space and zone out with a good book or sleep.
What's the best piece of advice you'd give our students on making a career out of music?
Be open to all music. And explore every opportunity that you find.
I have seen so many metal guitarists fail because they didn't want to play a pop gig. Pop singers fail because they wouldn't sing country. You need to be a musical chameleon that can perform in any role that is thrown at you."
I've played in a metal band but I'm not a metal bassist. I'm a bassist who can play metal alongside a whole host of other genres. I cut my teeth in r'n'b and country. A far cry from what I do now. Don't let your own taste close doors for you.
What have been the highlights of your musical journey to date?
Playing some of my bucket list venues like the O2 and Jazz Cafe were incredible. Getting to play on the same bill as some of my favourite bands is just something that keeps happening and I'll forever be grateful for that.
What tops it all is getting my solo-project-turned-bands album on vinyl for the first time. A lot of love, pain and hard work went into that and to get to hold it as a physical thing after working on it for so long is a moment I'll remember forever.
What else is next for you?
I've just released an album from my solo-project-turned-band The Yacht Club (who Dyne Road Records from ICMP helped get off the ground in 2015 which includes BMus Bass graduate Alex Bramwell and Higher Diploma grad Alexander Esp).
I'm buckling down with Sam Rose (ICMP BMus Guitar graduate) for a writing project with the aim to license out the material and pitch to other artists. I began this whole journey as a songwriter for other people so it's as if I've come full circle...
Study Bass Guitar in London with ICMP
If you're interested in developing your musicianship, learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.
Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org and start your music career today.